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While there are some good reasons to partner with a strategy consultant, many people find it mysterious and sometimes objectionable for outsiders to help with what would seem to be a core function.
We often hear the following objections:
- Strategy formulation and execution should be core to an executive team and should never be outsourced.
- Consultants often just present back what the organisation already knows.
- Organisations should rather make use of cheaper internal resources.
- Consultants should not be privy to the basis of an organisation’s competitive advantage and planning.
- Consulting resources are often junior with limited business experience.
- Senior consultant resources that were present during client proposals spend limited time on the project.
- Organisations become too reliant on consultants to get “run-the-business” tasks done.
- Consultants often just produce fancy reports which get filed away and are never actioned and implemented.
- Consultants are very expensive to use.
Some organisations almost never use consultants while others make regular use of their services. There are clients who perform badly and those that perform well – just as is the case with organisations who do not make use of consultants at all.
So why do clients use strategy consultants?
Our clients typically present the following case:
- Outsiders should provide a dispassionate view and therefore objective advice
- Outside assistance often builds momentum around a priority issue
- Staff often feel more obliged to give priority to a dedicated outside team
- Consultants are usually paid to reach a specific outcome freeing them from day-to-day distractions
- Consultants can bring strategy process / methodology expertise
- Consultants can bring domain expertise (issue, industry, market or function)
- Consulting firms invest in thought leadership
- Staff often learn valuable skills and knowledge from working with consulting partners on strategic projects
- The top people who should be working on a strategic project, are often overloaded with other responsibilities
- Strategic projects may require fluctuating resource requirements unsuitable to staffing with full time employees
- Consultants usually put in intensive efforts and many hours – typically not sustainable from full-time staff
- Consulting firms often attract – and therefore provide access to – high quality personnel who may not wish to work in the typical corporate environment
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